FAQs About Solar Systems

What is a PV Solar system?

A Photo Voltaic (PV) Solar system consists of : a solar array (panels), a solar panel combiner, a solar regulator, an inverter and a storage battery bank (if the system is not a grid tie system, a grid tie system is normally installed without backup or battery banks). The system can convert solar rays into AC power 230V/ 50Hz.

THIS IS HOW YOUR PHOTOVOLTAIC SOLAR SYSTEM WORKS:

Solar Panels

PV modules produce direct current from sunlight

Solar Panels
Inverter

Inverters convert the direct current into usable grid-suitable alternating current and monitor the system.

Solar Panels
Wall Socket

You benefit from inexpensive electricity, which makes you more independent.


I want to feed electricity from solar back into the Eskom grid and earn money from it.

Apart from some areas under the Cape Town Municipality and some other exeptions, this is still illegal in South Africa unless you want to start a solar farm with >1MW output.


Why do professional Solar Companies charge for Solar Systems designs?

As with any professional, they are sharing their knowledge, experience and time to provide good advice which will save you time, money and avoid making costly mistakes. It is very easy to make costly mistakes in solar designs and therefore we recommend you use a professional solar design service. In the end it will save you money and you will have a system that works for many years hassle free.


What type of battery must I use in a solar system?

Preferably a deep cycle, high cycle AGM gel battery e.g. Omnipower OPS and the Hoppecke OPzs solar series available from Sinetech. A deep cycle gel battery must be used in this application as it has a much higher cycle life than standard backup batteries and these batteries are therefore normally more expensive than standby batteries. Standard batteries can be use but have a much shorter cycle life.


My neighbour was told by a so called “Solar company” that they can change his entire house to PV solar for less than R30 000?

I hope your neighbour has been given a comprehensive quotation stating exactly how much power the solar system will provide, a list of the components being provided and whether hardware and installation is included or not. He/she should also check the quality of the panels and batteries being supplied as there are a lot of cheap, unreliable products being offered.


What is the cost of replacing Eskom with a PV solar system for my house?

This will depend on many factors such as Peak KW and the Kw/h in 24hr period used, size of system, reserve power in days, location, environment, quality of components used, etc. But to give you a realistic but rough indication a small house can cost from R100 000 - R250 000, a medium sized house from R250 000 - R500 000 and a larger house from R500 000 – >R1 million.

The Pictures below are examples only of some different types of solar systems and are not solar kits. Many different variations on these examples are available and a solar system like this has to be calculated and designed.



Integrated Backup System

An inverter-charger and battery bank provide backup power when the mains fail. No solar element is involved in this particular configuration, although this can be added on at a later stage.

Standalone PV Solar System

For situations where mains power is not available, or the client wishes to become completely independent of the grid. All power is generated by the solar panels; a battery bank stores excess power for use at night or when the sun is not shining.

Grid-Tie PV Solar System

Very popular in European countries, where residents may feed excess power back into the grid; solar panels provide power during the day, and at night power is drawn from the mains. There is no battery bank or power storage facility in this configuration.

Grid-Tie PV Solar System with backup

Similar to the Grid-Tie PV Solar System but a battery bank for storage of excess power is present; client would not have to use mains if load is not excessive.

Grid-Interactive PV Solar System

This system runs on solar power with battery backup and all excess power generated by the solar panels is returned to the grid.

Hybrid Grid-Interactive PV Solar System with backup

In this configuration, power can be generated by solar panels, wind turbines, diesel generator or mains, alone or in any combination.